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freud's couch*
not the BigSofa


Enter my blue fairy godmother...

I was recruited as an American agent in 1938, three years before America got into the war. I was recruited one spring day in the Tiergarten in Berlin...

I was sitting alone on a park bench in the sunshine that day, thinking of a fourth play that was beginning to write itself in my mind. It gave itself a title, which was "Das Reich der Zwei"--"Nation of Two."

It was going to be about the love my wife and I had for each other. It was going to show how a pair of lovers in a world gone mad could survive by being loyal only to a nation composed of themselves--a nation of two.

On a bench across the path from me a middle-aged American sat down. He looked like a fool and a gasbag...Three handsome officers of the S.S. stalked down the walk between us.

When they were gone, the man put his paper down and spoke to me in twanging Chicago English. "Nice-looking men," he said.

"I suppose," I said.

"You understand English?" he said.

"Yes," I said.

"Thank God for somebody who can understand English," he said. "I've been going crazy trying to find somebody to talk to."

"That so?" I said.

"What do you think of all this--" he said, "or aren't people supposed to go around asking questions like that?"

"All what?" I said.

"The things going on in Germany," he said. "Hitler and the Jews and all that."

"It isn't anything I can control," I said, "so I don't think about it."

He nodded. "None of your beeswax, eh?" he said.

"Pardon me?" I said.

"None of your business," he said.

"That's right," I said.

"You didn't understand that--when I said 'beeswax' instead of business?" he said.

"It's a common expression, is it?" I said.

"In America it is," he said. "You mind if I come over there, so we don't have to holler?"

"As you please," I said...

"Any of my beeswax what you do for a living?" he said.

"Writer," I said.

"Is that a fact?" he said. "That's a great coincidence. I was sitting over there wishing I could write, on account of I've thought up what I think's a pretty good spy story."

"That so," I said.

"I might as well give it to you," he said. "I'll never write it."

"I've got all the projects I can handle now," I said.

"Well--some time you may run dry," he said, "and then you can use this thing of mine. There's this young American, see, who's been in Germany so long he's practically a German himself. He writes plays in German, and he's married to a beautiful German actress, and he knows a lot of big-shot Nazis who like to hang around theater people...so this young man knows there's a war coming, figures America's gonna be on one side and Germany's gonna be on the other. So this American, who hasn't been anything but polite to the Nazis up to then, decided to pretend he's a Nazi himself, and he stays on in Germany when war comes along and he gets to be a very useful American spy...I'm asking you to be an American intelligence agent...you won't give me your final answer today. You'll live your final answer. If you decide to go ahead with it, you'll go ahead with it strictly on your own, working your way up with the Nazis as high as you can go...you'll be an authentic hero...you'll be volunteering right at the start of a war to be a dead man. Even if you live through the war without being caught, you'll find your reputation gone--and probably very little to live for..."

One of the many things my Blue Fairy Godmother told me was the sign and countersign that would identify me to my contact and my contact to me, if war should come.

The sign was, "Make new friends."

The countersign was: "But keep the old."

Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

in the enemy camp

I am not ashamed of my grandparents for having been slaves. I am only ashamed of myself for having at one time been ashamed. About eighty-five years ago they were told that they were free, united with others of our country in everything pertaining to the common good, and, in everything social, separate like the fingers of the hand. And they believed it. They exulted in it. They stayed in their place, worked hard, and brought up my father to do the same. But my grandfather is the one. He was an odd old guy, my grandfather, and I am told I take after him. It was he who caused the trouble. On his deathbed he called my father to him and said, "Son, after I'm gone I want you to keep up the good fight. I never told you, but our life is a war and I have been a traitor all my born days, a spy in the enemy's country ever since I give up my gun back in the Reconstruction. Live with your head in the lion's mouth. I want you to overcome 'em with yeses, undermine 'em with grins, agree 'em to death and destruction, let 'em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open.' They thought the old man had gone out of his mind. He had been the meekest of men...I was warned emphatically to forget what he said and indeed this is the first time it has been mentioned outside the family circle.

ralph ellison "the invisible man"




Much was made of Elisha refusing to part from Elijah, and it was said if he saw Elijah leaving him then he would receive the double spirit. Elisha announced afterwards how he had seen the chariot and the horsemen of Israel and received the double spirit. This is mentioned here by means of leading into the subject of St. George and the dragon, or the Archangel Michael and the dragon, the beast, which Michael is to throw into the abyss. They are one in the same, the dragon and St. George, and thusly the dragon and Elijah, for Elijah is also known as St. George.




George (of Lydda) spearing the great dragon
Brit. Mus. MS., Orient, No. 6673



El-Khidr (the Green Man, the immortal who gained eternal life, Elijah) is given in an Arabic folk tale as being a "beast", a snake, which comes down from the hills and asks Muhammad for a wife. Omar consents to give one of his daughters. The elder one refuses, but the younger one agrees to go. Eventually Omar goes to visit his daughter and finds she is married to El-Khidr, living very happily, but is not permitted into one of the 100 rooms in the mansion. As it turns out, the room into which she isn't permitted is the room in which the sacred buraq is kept, which Muhammad is to ride to the heavens on the day of resurrection to intercede on behalf of his nation, and the room is not to be opened before that day. The tale "Bluebeard" is curiously akin to this one, yet the Arabic story ends with Omar seeing that his daughter is living happily with El-Khidr, taking her to visit her family, after which she returns to her El-Khidr.





Elijah is described in Arabic folklore as being ever in motion, ever passing. In the story of Elisha and the woman whose child into whom he breathes life, when she is first introduced she is spoken of as seeing Elisha continually passing by. This "continually" is ThMID, "to stretch, constant, perpetual". In this word ThMID is perhaps observed ThAM, the word for twin, and which means "complete". The TsLM, or image of a man is understood as being double. In "The Secret Doctrine" we find, "But in the Kabala...Samael, who is Satan, is shown to be identical with St. Michael, the slayer of the dragon. How is this? For it is said that Tselem (the image) reflects alike Michael and Samael who are one. Both proceed, it is taught, from Ruach (Spirit), Neschamah (Soul) and Nephesch (life). In the 'Chaldean Book of Numbers' Samael is the concealed occult wisdom, and Michael the higher terrestrial Wisdom, both emanating from the same source but diverging after their issue from the mundane soul, which on Earth is Mohat (intellectual understanding) or Manas (the seat of intellect). They diverge, because one (Michael) is influenced by Neschamah, while the other (Samael) remains uninfluenced."

in other words, the mirror has two faces.





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kurt vonnegut

Journal of Mundane Behavior
(as you can see, now there's a Journal of Mundane Behavior. But we were here first.)

*Freud's couch image from the web, visit the Sigmund Freud museum to view his couch in all its colorful glory
Quoted excerpts from Ralph Ellison's "The Invisible Man" and Kurt Vonnegut's "Mother Night"



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